Techno

‘They! Live’ – Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka (2011)

For some reason, I feel an unusual, intimate connection with this album. It might even be my favourite album of any genre. On it, Damage and Daneeka, two producers from Swansea, create a truly euphoric, intoxicating blend of techno, house and electro with every track guaranteed to make the hairs stand on the back of your neck.

Opner ‘No One’ boasts a spine tingling build-up with a low, tender synth heralding in the butterflies before an infectious, distorted vocal is introduced. The synth urges the track on to an early climax as it gradually swells louder with some rhythmic handclaps added in until a whopper of a bassline drops, turning the track on its head into a jacking body groover. Sheer class.

 

Abigail Wyles turns in an enchanting vocal performance on ‘Battleships,’ her haunting, bluesy voice aching over a taut drum beat. A slightly sinister four-tone pad adds a spectral mood with waves of static swelling and breaking in the background. Soon a beautifully sad melody echoes out like some lonely lighthouse flashing its searching beam on some forlorn shore. If you think machine music can’t make you feel emotion, then listen to this.

 

We’re met with a sweaty, paranoid, highly strung dancefloor weapon next in the form of ‘Deaf Siren.’ A real barnstormer this! There’s a lovely extended build up here until a huge bassline plummets around the two minute mark. An atmospheric techno bomb.

‘Charlottenburg’ is a majestic track which probably would just about edge it as my favourite on the album. Immense goosebumps every time I listen to this. There’s a shy, sweet melody from the off that swoons in and out of the track, with that other magnificent synth taking its turn to wade in soon after but becoming more prominent from 1.30. This track’s peak produces an absolute moment after 1.50 – you can’t help but totally zone out, that divine, otherworldly melody totally taking over your brain, enveloping you in a warm, ecstatic glow… coursing, coursing through you. A superb track – there’s something very, very special about it. Not sure if Damage and Daneeka have discovered a unique frequency here that overrides your brain’s serotonin response – that certainly what it sounds like!

 

Next up is ‘Juggernaut,’ a really cool track with a repetitive five note synth that chugs along over a heavy bass with a disorientated, ghostly female vocal fading in and out.

Abi Wyles features again on ‘Halo’ and aren’t we delighted to hear her dulcet tones again! It’s disappointing that she has not had the chance to release her own artist album as of yet. This time, her sultry voice yearns and pines over the track’s four minutes with the bassline almost sounding like it’s composed of a low, deep, humming male voice. The effect is poignant and deeply affecting.

 

‘Ellipsis Torment’ is a rhythm-centred piece that gives the drums room to bang it out. Closer ‘Bleach & Penicillin’ is an outright gem. Nestled delicately at the end of the album, it produces a moment to rival that on the incredible ‘Charlottenburg.’ The way the synth on this modulates is just heavenly and the rising tones that begin around 1.10 are almost too good! It’s almost an automatic reaction for my stomach to do flips when listening to this. I find that a lot with this release in general – each track is like a switch, triggering very specific yet, at the same time, inexpressible emotional reactions. My palms are even getting a bit sweaty now listening to ‘Bleach & Penicillin’ again! A bit disappointing that it’s only 2.37 minutes long but I guess it’s always a good idea to leave the listener hankering for more.

 

I was lucky enough to catch these two guys and Abigail Wyles performing a live set of this album at Life Festival in 2012. They had some technical difficulties but it was such an experience. This is an album that has received favourable reviews, but for me, personally, it’s a piece of work I just feel an indescribable connection with. Drenched with deep, imposing basslines and streaked with highly emotive, bittersweet synths, this release is a like a series of light rain showers on a sweltering July day – cherished little moments of relief and release that brief alleviation from the sometimes overbearing heat of life.

Rating: 5/5

Standout Tracks: ‘No One,’ ‘Battleships,’ ‘Charlottenburg,’ ‘Bleach & Penicillin’

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